Talking about influences with Hollie Cook is a one-of-a-kind experience. She was born into the eye of a storm of generation-defining music — her father, Paul Cook, drummed for the Sex Pistols and her mother, Jeni, sang backing vocals for Boy George in Culture Club.
Some people in the stream of visitors that brought musical discoveries into her childhood may have been global stars but she didn’t know, or care. “I knew my parents’ friends as my parents’ friends, some of them may or may not have been musicians,” Cooks says, catching her breath in a Brighton pub after a gig at The Great Escape, Europe’s biggest new music showcase.
When she was in her early teens, one of her dad’s friends noticed she had a fondness for reggae and soul and made a mix tape for her. She played it and first heard songs that would influence her throughout life. One of those songs was Nina Simone’s Baltimore.
“That really struck me,” she remembers. “That and Ken Booth’s ‘Set Me Free.’ Those were the two songs that perked me up.”
Talk of influences drifts to the legendary show her dad played in Manchester in 1976. Despite being sparsely attended it has gone down in history as one of the most influential gigs of all time. “Everyone there then formed a band,” Cook says, picking up the train of thought. The future members of Joy Division, The Smiths, The Fall and The Buzzcocks were all in the room.
“I definitely don’t try to think too much about the insane impact that my dad’s band had on the music industry,” she says. “I think that would probably intimidate me and I don’t feel the need to live up to anyone else’s expectations.”
However she has connected with a bit of that insane impact through her dad. “We play together. My dad’s always been very encouraging of what I do,” she says.
“I’ve also always been quite contrary to following what else is going on. Even in my social group of friends I’ve always been quite different. I just lean towards doing things that other people aren’t doing. Not just musically but generally in life. I think that also comes through on a creative level,” Cook says.
Hollie Cook’s new album Twice is out this week on Mr Bongo records.